Disabled postgraduate researchers

Being a disabled postgraduate researcher is different from being a disabled undergraduate and we understand that it could raise some complex issues.

Whether you need information or guidance about disclosure, disability support funding or the transfer and viva process, our Disability Team can help, guide and support you.


We are committed to supporting disabled students and providing all students with an inclusive and supportive University environment.

We understand that as a postgraduate researcher disclosing information about your disability can be hard. You may be concerned about how we’ll handle your information or worry that you will be treated negatively. Perhaps you feel that you are not disabled or that you have developed robust coping strategies for managing your disability and that you don't need additional support. We are here to help, guide and support you.


We recommend disclosing because:

· It is a positive, proactive step.

· We can offer you specific support for your academic studies to help you reach your full potential while at Leeds.

· It will give you access to the expert and specialist support, guidance and advice through Disability Services.

· Your academic department will be able to work with you more effectively.

· You will be covered by the Equality Act 2010 which will give you further legal protection.


You only need to disclose to the University once. Any personal information relating to your disability will be kept confidential and will be shared on a "need to know" basis only with those people directly responsible for teaching, supervising or supporting you.

There are two opportunities to disclose before you start on your course:

1. On your application form.

2. During the online Registration process.

You can also disclose at any time during your studies by telling someone in your department or by contacting us in Disability Services.


· If you undertook your undergraduate study at Leeds and disclosed at that time, we may have information about you on file. However, we won't know that you have returned to undertake postgraduate study unless you disclose on your application form or at Registration, or you inform us separately.

· Disability Services should be aware of all disabled postgraduate researchers from the point of application, provided you disclose on your application form. However, this is not always the case, so we may not know about you unless you make contact with us directly.


Disability Services will invite you to come and talk with us, to tell us more about yourself and your disability so that we can look at what support arrangements we can put in place. With your permission, we may also contact your academic department so that they can make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your disability-related requirements.

If you disclosed a disability at the point of application, Disability Services will contact you via email. If you have informed Disability Services in advance that you are coming to the University to start postgraduate study, we will begin to work with you

before your arrival. We will send you information about the support you may be entitled to and the sources of funding for that support. You will be assigned a named Disability Coordinator who advise you on funding and support, and who will coordinate your disability-related academic support requirements throughout your University career, in consultation with you and your academic department.


Funding for postgraduate disabled students is different from funding as an undergraduate. You may find it useful to work with Disability Services to identify and secure funding for your disability-related academic support.

DISABLED STUDENTS' ALLOWANCES Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) is funding to enable you to access your studies. As a disabled postgraduate researcher you may be entitled to receive funding from Student Finance England or from a research council. The processes for application, assessment, invoicing and reclaiming the cost of support differs depending on the source of your funding. Further information is below, and Disability Services can advise you further on funding.

Disabled Students’ Allowances - Student Finance England (Government-funded): Government-funded DSA from Student Finance England is non-means tested and you do not need to repay it. You can also keep any equipment purchased via DSA once your course has finished.

Application and eligibility: you can apply for DSA at any time from Student Finance England and do not need to wait for a confirmed place. The process can take at least three months between application and final award so it’s a good idea to apply early.

You are eligible for DSA if you are:

· a home-rated student. (International students are not eligible for DSA.)

· doing a postgraduate course (including a distance-learning course) that is:

o full time and lasts at least one year

o part time and does not take more than four times as long to complete as an equivalent full-time course.

You are not eligible for DSA if you are:

· a postgraduate research student getting research council funding. · eligible for an NHS Bursary (you can apply for equivalent help through the NHS Bursary Scheme). · getting an NHS Social Work Bursary that includes equivalent support.

· receiving funding from your university or college that includes equivalent support.

You should contact your funding provider for advice on any extra support you may be entitled to because of your disability or condition.

The amount of DSA available to you as a postgraduate research student is usually less than the amount you may have received as an undergraduate. You can receive new equipment through the DSA, but any equipment you already own will be taken into account.

For some disabled postgraduate research students, the DSAs amount per year falls short of the amount of support you need. This is especially the case for students who are blind or partially sighted, and who require transcription services, and for students who are deaf or hearing impaired, and who require sign language interpreting.

If you exceed the maximum DSA limit, Disability Services will look for alternative sources of funding with you. Students who exceed their DSA will continue to receive support during their studies at Leeds. Disabled Students' Allowances - UK Research & Innovation (Research Councils): if you are funded by a Research Council you can also apply for DSA funded by your Research Council. The application process for this is different, and you will need to talk with Disability Services so that your Disability Coordinator can arrange your funding.


If you are not eligible for DSA and are not funded by the NHS or a Research Council, and you do not have access to any other disability support funding, the University will meet your disability-related academic support costs through the Disability Support Fund. You must contact Disability Services to discuss this further.


You may be able to access a range of support services, subject to availability and suitability, without applying for additional funding. These include:

· pre-arrival and induction support and information

· receiving materials in advance

· access to campus-based computers with assistive technology (including text-to-speech, mind-mapping and magnification software)

· support from the Assistive Technology Advisor and access to assistive technology workshops

· the loan of equipment (for example, digital voice recorders)

· adaptations to University accommodation

· modified assessment arrangements (including transfer and viva)


· information and support from Disability Services

To access a range of other support services, you are likely to need access to additional funding, such as DSAs. These services include:

· an assessment of academic support needs

· one-to-one learning strategy support

· specialist mentor, personal assistant, notetaker support

· transcription services for blind or partially-sighted students, and those with a print impairment (to convert academic information into accessible formats, including braille, large print, e-text and audio)

· sign language interpreters.

Whatever your disability support funding source, you will usually undertake a Study Needs Assessment as part of the application process. This is an individual assessment which takes into account your disability and the requirements of the course you are studying. The assessment generates a detailed report called the Needs Assessment Report which includes a list of recommendations for support, as well as advice for academic departments. Disability Services will also create a

Support Summary Sheet which details recommendations for reasonable adjustments which your School can put in place. This will be sent to any departmental staff responsible for supervising or supporting you.


Disability Services will liaise with staff in your School or Faculty to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place. Most Schools have a Disability Contact, who is often a member of the Student Support staff. Some Schools have a dedicated Disability Contact for Postgraduate Research students.


We are experienced at supporting disabled postgraduate research students through the transfer and viva process. Recommendations for adjustment and support are always made on a case-by-case basis, with you and your academic department. There are some adjustments which can be put in place without needing to discuss this further with Disability Services. Instead, you can discuss these with your supervisor and/or your School Disability Contact. Examples of these adjustments are as follows:

· Wherever possible, assessors/examiners using succinct and focussed questions and avoiding the use of multi-part questions.

· Thinking time before answering questions

· Asking for a question to be repeated/re-phrased or requesting clarification

· Being able to consult your own copy of the thesis/submission

· Breaks during the viva

· Optional rest breaks pre-scheduled at e.g. x minute intervals and/or the opportunity to request breaks

· Advance briefing for the Panel/Examiners on the particular nature of the disability (for example to explain communication and thinking style)

· PGR providing a presentation to the panel/examiners at the start or end of the viva

· Particular room requirements e.g. accessible room, lighting, seating & furniture arrangements

· Providing materials in alternative formats

· PGR afforded (reasonable) time to write down questions posed by the panel/examiners

· The use of a British Sign Language interpreter

There are some adjustments which require further discussion with your School and the Doctoral College. These might include:

· Presence of a supporter/support worker/note taker at a viva

· Presence of a Specialist Mentor to assist communication at a viva

· Use of assistive technology in the viva

· An extension to the deadline for submission of the transfer report or thesis

An extension to the period for corrections (after the viva) where the thesis has been recommended for award of the degree subject to minor corrections. You and your department are encouraged to contact the Disability Services at the earliest opportunity as it can take many months to put in place thes